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California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


WALTER TAYLOR GARNER The Garner family has been in San Bernardino County for thirty-five years. The homestead which represents the accumulated development and enterprise of the family throughout this period is located a mile and a half west of Wineville, on the Wineville-Ontario road. This is the property of Walter Taylor Garner, whose father originally acquired it and began the development which has contributed some of the most constructive factors in the prosperity of this section.  

The late Richard Taylor Garner was born in England where he married Mary Ann Holmes. In 1876 they came to America and established their home at Hutchinson, Minnesota, where Richard T. Garner became a merchant. He lived there nine years, and while he was prospered the rigorous winters compelled him to leave and seek a more congenial climate in California. The family arrived in this state February 15, 1885. Besides the parents there were two children, Marion, who was born in England in 1871, and Walter Taylor Gamer, who was born at Hutchinson, Minnesota, May 9, 1877.  

When the family came to California they took a preemption of forty acres of Government land, then a sandy desert, and this forty acres is the nucleus of the present much larger holdings of Walter T. Garner. For several months the family had to haul water four miles for domestic use. A house was constructed and a well put down. Richard Taylor Garner had a full share of the English characteristic of bull-dog tenacity, and never knew defeat. The county was new, there were no capable advisers, but he went ahead, clearing off the brush and setting out his land to vineyard and fruit trees, only to see ^his efforts nullified by hoards of rabbits and other pests. The first method of defense against the rabbits was constructing a fence of laths driven into the ground closely, but the jack rabbits would crowd between the sticks, and in the absence of baling wire or rope they resorted to the use of squaw vine, a long native vine, which when woven around the lath proved effective. Not long afterward chicken wire or woven fence became available. Posts were set at intervals, but the north winds blew weeds against the wire. This soon proved an obstacle to the drifting sand, so that in a single season the fence would be drifted under, and the protection against the invading pests had to be procured by hanging wire on top of the posts each fall. The rabbits would not destroy the grape vines in winter, but would eat the tender fruit and leaves in the spring and thus stop the vitality. All fruit trees had to be wrapped in burlap the entire year. Rabbits and range sheep would eat Indian corn as fast as planted, but Egyptian corn was immune from these pests. There was no market when the grapes came into bearing. Drying did not prove successful. Later Guasti & Stearns established their wineries and began contracting to pay for the grapes and while the sum was small it made available a real market and proved an important financial resource.  

All these developments had been carried well along during the life time of the parents. The mother died in 1908 and the father in 1915. The daughter, Marion, was married in 1891 to John Bright of Los Angeles, and she is the mother of a daughter, Bernice, born in 1894.  

Walter T. Garner, who has never married, has always lived on the homestead and has done much to improve it and add to the acreage. He now has a hundred acres in fruit and vineyard. The first savings he acquired of four hundred dollars he invested in desert land, contracting for forty acres at twelve dollars an acre. He later bought more, and did the planting as he could finance it. Mr. Garner completed his education in a shack schoolhouse that was a long distance from the Garner home. The nearest post office when the family came here was Cucamonga. The mail was brought to the old section house and the neighbors would take turns in calling for it at the railroad shanty. Mr. Garner himself was old enough to appreciate the labors and adversities of the early years, and he did his share in battling the animal pests and in stopping the avalanche of sand and in securing water for irrigation purposes. He is one of the men who deserve lasting credit from all subsequent generations for what he has accomplished through hard experience in learning the ways of the country and in proving the best methods of redeeming the land and securing therefrom the greatest !volume of production. He is a member of the democratic party.

History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011